When to discuss salary in interviews!

Hi all!

I'm newer to Elpha and currently breaking into tech.

I've heard complete opposite takes (from two very trusted sources) on this topic and don't know which way to go....

One said NEVER bring up salary in the first interview, or at all, until whoever I'm interviewing with does first.

The other said ALWAYS bring up salary in the first call/interview so no one's time is wasted.

I would love to hear other opinions on this if anyone feels like sharing. I had a 2nd interview today and brought it up - stating that I do not have a number in mind because I honestly don't. But there wasn't any information listed for the role as far as salary, benefits, etc. Only the role description. I felt that if I'm going into a 2nd interview I should have some idea of what is included, but I don't think it went over well.

Thank you in advance for any feedback!

You are right, you need to have some idea of the salary/compensation benefits going into the interview process. Most companies will have a range in mind that they can share with you when you are starting the interview process. You can ask for it on a first round interview call or through email. If you are asked for salary, you can say that it depends on various factors. Try not to share your numbers/range first. It's indeed important to know the range of salary that is slotted for a position. If they don't want to share, it's not a great sign of culture, how they communicate and are open about what they are thinking about. I support women in Tech to navigate their careers, feel free to reach out for a chat, DM me.
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Thank you so much for your insight, Anna. They definitely didn't want to share and put it back onto me, then tried to redirect the conversation and give broad reasoning for why they don't have that information available - which seems like it probably aligns with your reasoning. Thank you again!
This not wanting to share their number budget is very common in India and yet they expect candidate to share a number(usually resulting in people giving high numbers). Even worse is that I've had recruiters insisting on my current CTC/Expected CTC before sharing a written Job Description, it's a sign of very exploitative focused culture.
Hi anon! Elpha has a resource on sharing compensation expectations that you may find helpful! 😁
Thank you so much for the link! Great information!
Openly discuss what *you* value, and discern from there. Remember you’re interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, so don’t leave anything off the table if it’s truly important to you and your career.
Thank you so much for your feedback 🙏🏻💛
I am in my second job in tech (after transitioning from a different industry) and the first tech job I had, the salary was in the job ad (which was very helpful and actually really swayed me into choosing that role, it felt transparent and upfront). My current role I started recently, and was approached by a recruiter for it. A salary wasn't mentioned, but I was desperate to leave the role I was in so I didn't push for salary information during the interviews. To be honest, I now wish I had, as I accepted a very very small payrise because I wanted to work for the company and get the job, but now know if I had known what the proposed salary was before telling them my current salary, I could have negotiated for more. Call it imposter syndrome, I didn't feel like I could because I'm still only a few years into my tech career. Definitely a lesson learned!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I understand where you were coming from in all of those decisions, and I will use your experience to fuel my salary discussions. I hope your next role is a great fit with a salary to match, or that you receive a big raise/promotion with your current company!!
In your second interview, you are perfectly justified to say, “When and if we get to that stage, who will outline compensation and who will make the formal offer?” It’s possible it won’t be the person who interviews you, so you’ll want to save revealing your ask for the person who actually can grant it.
Thank you for this! I love how you worded it. I will definitely use that, should this issue come up again in my interviews.
I'm so sick of the mentality that a salary should be kept a secret until if/when a company decides they want to offer you the job! I believe it should be one of the first topics discussed because after all, isn't the salary the main reason 99.9% of us work in the first place? That being said, I know it's a hard topic to broach. I believe it is never too early to ask what the range for the role is. This will let you know if you even want to continue to another interview or if you're not at all on the same page as the company. Being new to an industry, asking for a range can give you a much better idea of what to set your expectations at and give you time to figure out how much you should be earning. Almost every interview i've ever had, there's a point where the interviewee has asked me "do you have any questions for me?" This is the perfect time to work in the salary range question (have a few others prepared as well).
Thank you for sharing your opinion and perspective, Christine! I agree with all of that. Considering all of the practice and company research I've been doing, putting in a lot of time and effort, if it's only to find out way down the line at the offer stage I'll be pretty upset if it's nowhere close to what I need my salary to be. The response I received when I asked in this particular 2nd interview was a round-about guilt trip. I almost felt the need to apologize for even bringing it up. I'm going to take it as a preview of their culture and maybe a sign that the salary isn't very desirable compared to others in the market.
Wow, I definitely would too! a guilt trip for asking about a salary range? That's ridiculous. Definitely trust your instincts on this one!!
The most accurate resource for comparable tech salaries is You'll want to first understand the leveling system, but after that this is super helpful! Both to understand how levels "translate" between companies and what market rate is for compensation. Note that comp is self-reported so there can be outliers that seem surprising to me, but overall it's pretty accurate.
Thank you, Gloria! I will check this out right now! Much appreciated.
I hate this answer... but I have been told by countless career coaches time and time again to wait until the end. Otherwise, it can put you in a bad light as a candidate. The exception is if it is brought up in the initial conversation with HR or the recruiter where they tell you about the role. Usually, they will ask for salary expectations, but if they don't, I think it's ok to ask at this point since it's the "weeding out" convo and it's NOT with the hiring manager or team members.
Absolutely agree on weeding out. It is key to working out whether it's worth both sides sitting down to interview. Surely it is worse to waste people's time if expectations are not aligned
I would say that it depends with understanding your own value and I believe it is best to establish the salary range early so that time isn't wasted on either side. This may have been true before but now companies are competing for talent. They need to be conscious of how they are coming across in terms of culture and being transparent is beneficial for them. I'm a leadership coach and one of my director level clients was recently flown across the country for an interview. She clarified the salary up front. She was disappointed though in the male interviewer who she would report to (the COO) and decided not to continue interviewing for the role. It is a 2 way thing - I think asking shows that you have courage, confidence and that you know your worth.
I agree with weeding out as well! Thank you for sharing all that!
If you're just breaking into tech, it's common that you could end up low balling yourself by a lot even when an offer is higher than anything you've ever seen before, by not knowing the scope of your upper limit. Just take a look around other threads around here and you'll see that story on repeat. Comparably,, Glassdoor are great places to start for baselining the title you are interviewing for to get ahead of it (we are also working on more Resources to support this in the coming months here at Elpha - stay tuned!), but of course the most reliable source will always be the range from the company/role itself. An increasing number of states are requiring companies to disclose salary bands when asked (CA, MD, WA, CT, RI) and even to share them publicly in job postings (CO), so my personal recommendation in the interest of everyone's time and energy no matter what state you are in is to ask for the salary band on first conversation and do it before the recruiter asks you. This way you can both gauge if there are the conditions for a potential fit, and down the line you'll get a clear understanding of where your skills fit in their seniority range for the role when/if you receive an offer. Companies and hiring managers both want the best talent for the jobs-to-be-done (that they can afford), and you both deserve to know if you're in range before investing several hours of valuable time in interviewing. Good luck out there!
Wow, thank you for all of that!!! I hadn't checked out comparably before - what an awesome resource. Also happy to hear Elpha is working on their own version :) can't wait to see it!
I've found it common that the interview doesn't discuss salary and that conversation is separately handled with recruiters whether that is internal or external. I like this approach because it means the interview can focus on job role fit. I wouldn't attend an interview unless I'd already established the salary banding was right because that wastes everyone's time. I think if you put it that way when arranging to interview it sounds sensible and everyone appreciates that. They don't want to waste time on interviews if you're never going to accept their offer.
I like this approach! It makes a lot of sense. Thank you for sharing, Sally!